Autumn is well on its way, which means cold season will be here before we know it! That means more people stocking up on tissue supplies and Vitamin C.
You might know that you can help prevent sickness and support immunity during this time through better health choices, such as eating more colorful, antioxidant-rich foods (leafy greens, berries, carrots, citrus fruits, and other brightly colored produce), getting enough sleep and regular exercise.
But did you know there are other non-food-related factors in our daily life that can affect immunity? Read on to find out what they are.
Some research shows that people with strong relationships are more likely to live longer than those who are poorly connected socially. And it makes sense: humans are social creatures! Developing and maintaining social relationships may help us stay healthy mentally and physically.
If this is an area you could work on, try reconnecting with old friends or family members, joining a group or meetup around an interest you have, or volunteering for a local cause.
Feeling good about what’s to come may actually help you continue to feel good in health. Several studies show that being optimistic about your health may indeed lead to better health outcomes.
Practicing positive thinking and showing gratitude daily can help improve outlook. Life will always have challenges that should be acknowledged, but continuing to notice the good things in any situation can make a big difference.
Dogs and Cats
Pet owners are shown to have lower total cholesterol and blood pressure compared to non-pet owners. And having pets as a child has been linked to a lower likelihood of allergies. Basically, having pets in your home may help boost your health and reduce the chance of illness.
This is a great opportunity to give Fido a hug or take him out for a run. Or if you’ve been considering a new pet, this is just another benefit of choosing a furry family member.
There’s more research to be done on this topic, but some studies suggest laughing at something like a funny movie may help boost natural killer cells, which are crucial for immunity.
Even if this weren’t the case, everyone can benefit from more laughter. It makes life more fun and prevents us from taking things too seriously.
Being stressed can increase levels of suppressor T cells, which quell immune function. This makes us more likely to get virus-related illnesses like the flu or a cold. While we can’t avoid stress completely, we can help ourselves deal with it better through self-care practices, such as:
- meditation and/or yoga
- deep breathing exercises
- spending time away from technology
- eating a good meal
- taking regular vacations
Think about what helps you to relax and take care of yourself, then schedule a little time each day to do something small just for you.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to immune function, there are many factors involved. Besides eating well and getting enough movement each day, we can have the best outlook by also nourishing close relationships, making time for ourselves, and remembering to notice the funny and positive parts of life. These things are important for a healthy, well-lived life.